By Rachel Auberger
“This quarantine has helped me realize to never take anything for granted,” Raylee Colwell, a White County High School senior, said as she found out her final season on the tennis courts has officially been canceled. “And it has helped me learn how to find the positive in challenging times or situations.”
The positive for Colwell lies in the memories and the lessons those memories taught her - memories of practicing with her teammates, practices that built friendships and trust, and practices that were filled with fun and laughter.
She knows those days of practices on the courts beside WCHS are over. She knows the games, filled with more memories – triumphant memories of winning with her teammates and funny memories like getting the winning shot stuck in the throat of her racquet, are also over. But she also knows she wouldn’t trade them for anything.
“I want to thank my teammate, Aaron, for spending lots of time playing and practicing with me and for being patient with me when I am late to meet him,” she said with a laugh. “And a special thanks to Jordie for being my doubles partner.”
But practices weren’t just about fun with friends, practices gave her a mentor in her coach.
“[He] is hilarious, lots of fun, and positive no matter what and also demonstrates a love for the game of tennis,” she said,
Colwell said the positivity her coach displayed is what she has learned to focus on, but when asked if she had a favorite moment with her coach, she replied, “They are all funny....it’s Joel Goff!”
Colwell said that while playing tennis for White County High School provided her with the experience and joy of being part of a high school team, it also had a lot to teach her.
“The game of tennis has taught me patience.... lots of patience,” she said.
Patience, along with the ability to focus on the positive in challenging times, is something that will aid her in her next chapter. A chapter that is still a little undetermined but nonetheless she is eagerly waiting for.
“Now as I leave and move forward to the next chapter of my life, whether it be attending college at the University of Tennessee, East Tennessee State University, or Auburn University (I haven’t made up my mind yet), I will hold onto all the memories that helped to build my educational, social, and competitive foundation and use that to continue shaping my life into whatever God has in store for me,” Colwell said.
As for the teammates she leaves behind, the teammates who are also losing a season but still have the hope of next year, she offers them this advice, “Play every match like it’s your last high school match and soak in every minute of it!”
While Colwell knows that her time as a Warriorette, a time that has lasted for three amazingly, fun, promising, future-shaping years, has come to an end, she knows that this isn’t the end of playing the game.
“Thank you to the two people who initially introduced me to the game of tennis,” she said. “With that introduction, I now have a sport that I love and can play for years to come. I’m sure whichever school I attend, there will be tennis courts where I can go and make new memories with new friends and the match will go on and on......”